By Ken Reed
Many parts of our society have been hit hard by Covid-19. One area that’s received scant attention is youth sports.
During this pandemic, youth sports leagues have been cancelled, athletic facilities have been shutdown, various youth sports programs — public (community recreation centers) and private (e.g., club sports organizations) — have screeched to a halt.
We all know how important cardiovascular-based physical activity is in this era of a childhood obesity epidemic. Pre-pandemic, we were already battling the growing problem of physical inactivity among our children. Shelter-in-place guidelines across the country have exacerbated this problem, as kids are spending more time than ever in front of screens.
Moreover, the recreation and youth sports organizations that help keep our kids moving are now suffering serious economic losses. The result is many youth sports organizations are at risk of going under and not reopening when shelter-in-place guidelines are lifted. For our kids’ sake, this is a likelihood that we need to mitigate.
As such, League of Fans is joining with a number of other organizations to call upon Congress to take the actions necessary to help the youth sports community stay afloat during this national crisis.
Here are a couple excerpts from a letter co-signed by League of Fans and addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:
– As this crisis persists, the infrastructure of youth sports, from running programs, providing coaching, and hosting events and competitions is eroding. We must provide critical support now to the youth sports community so these programs can remain for our youth as the crisis wanes.
– While not unique to youth sports, coronavirus-response-resulting cancelled events and programs have had a significant impact on the youth sports sector. This economic loss applies to the youth sport program providers, youth sport event organizers, along with the event hosts and a large number of employees and contractors connected to the event.
– The force majeure clause of insurance contracts does not cover pandemics, meaning that most of the expenses related to these cancelled events are not reimbursable or insurable, leaving a potentially crippling lost expense, dragging down, if not sinking, many youth sports organizations. In just the youth sports sector, we estimate that there have been approximately $8.5B in losses due to coronavirus-response-related event cancellations. Similar losses are faced by venues scheduled to host these events that no longer can due to government restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic.
– Youth sports, by its nature, is a group and crowd-generating activity. While other sectors can operate by remote operations and limiting contacts, that is not feasible for youth sports. Procedures will need to be developed to safely allow the sports sectors to return to full operation, given the contact, group and crowd generating nature of youth sports. This could necessitate an extended period of shutdown across the youth sports industry before activities can resume.
– For that reason, we are asking that Congress recognize this reality by extending existing CARES Act programs and creating and designating $8.5B of stabilization funding for the youth sports sector. Organizations that can demonstrate that national health guidelines prevent their return to program, events, and general operations for an extended period will be able to apply for this extended funding to continue to provide the stabilization needed to keep their critical youth sports programs operational. Youth sports programs are an industry largely run by volunteer coaches and “gig” contractors. As such, a designated fund for youth sports programs becomes even more critical as a lot of these programs are not structured in such a way to benefit from existing recovery resources.
League of Fans, on behalf of youth sports organizations, facility operators, youth sports employees and volunteers, parents and youth sports participants, is asking for your help in saving our youth sports infrastructure post-pandemic. Please contact your local elected officials and/or Senators McConnell and Schumer and express your desire that Congress provides significant stabilization funding for the youth sports community.
The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader
United States Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Charles Schumer, Minority Leader
United States Senate
322 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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